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Casey-Cardinia: Commemorating the Great War: 1914 - 1918 blog

Links to our Past - history -

We have  a new blog - Casey-Cardinia: Commemorating the Great War: 1914 - 1918. You can find it here http://caseycardinia1914-1918.blogspot.com.au/ and there are also links to the blog from our home page www.cclc.vic.gov.au

The aim of this blog  is to be a  forum for commemorating and recording the impact of World War One on the people in the region now covered by the City of Casey and Shire of Cardinia - it will cover life on the home front, information about local soldiers and other personnel such as nurses and the development of local groups such as the Red Cross and Patriotic Groups. It will also look at the aftermath of the War and how communities commemorated their losses and service by the creation of Avenues of Honour and other memorials.

The blog will not be a  chronological work - it will be an eclectic look at the Great War and it's impact on our area. There is also a list of interesting and useful websites relating to the War.

We welcome input - if you have any ideas or stories to share about local soldiers or nurses or stories about how your family lived through the war then I would love to hear from you. Contact me on heather.arnold@cclc.vic.gov.au or ring me at the Narre Warren Library 9704 7696.

Miles Franklin longlist

Reading Rewards - reviews -

The Miles Franklin Award is regarded as Australia’s most prestigious literature prize, having been established through the will of My Brilliant Career author, (Stella Maria Sarah) Miles Franklin. First awarded in 1957, the Award is presented each year to the novel which is of the highest literary merit and presents Australian life in any of its phases.
The longlist includes two debut novelists and two past winners:

Tracy Farr - The Life And Loves Of Lena Gaunt
Richard Flanagan - The Narrow Road to the Deep North
Ashley Hay - The Railwayman's Wife
Melissa Lucashenko - Mullumbimby
Fiona McFarlane - The Night Guest
Nicolas Rothwell - Belomor
Trevor Shearston - Game
Cory Taylor - My Beautiful Enemy
Tim Winton - Eyrie
Alexis Wright - The Swan Book
Evie Wyld - All The Birds, Singing

The Miles Franklin 2014 shortlist will be announced at a public event at the State Library of New South Wales on Thursday 15 May 2014, with the winner to be announced on Thursday 26 June 2014. 

Diary of a Wimpy Kid: Rodrick Rules

Book Swamp -

Book name : Diary of a Wimpy Kid: Rodrick Rules
Author of the book: Jeff Kinney

I believe this series is a great book for year 2-5 because it is really funny in the end of it. I also think it is great because it is a really medium reading level.

What type of story was it?: Funny
What do you rate the book out of 10?: 10

Age: 8

Sister Florence Vines - Army nurse

Casey-Cardinia 1914-1918: the Great War -

More than 3,000 Civilian nurses volunteered for service during the Great War and I wondered if any came from this area - so I went to Trove and typed in the keywords  'nurses' and 'Berwick', filtered the results down to the 1910 to 1919 period and came upon this article in a January  1919 South Bourke and Mornington Journal.

South Bourke & Mornington Journal  January 9, 1919  page 2.http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article66195348
So, now I knew that Sister Vines from Berwick had served in the War, but what else could we find out about her? I looked up the Electoral Rolls on Ancestry Family History database and found this entry for Sister Vines in the 1914 roll and discovered her first name was Florence. 

Then I did another search on Trove with the key words 'Vines', 'Shepton' and 'Berwick' to try to find out what Shepton was - I thought it may have been the name of a house - but then I found this advertisement which was in  Berwick Shire News  from January to March 1914, which told us that Sister Vines  operated a private hospital in Berwick with Sister Duigan and  the hospital was called Shepton.

Berwick Shire News March 4,  1914http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article89083297
The next step was to find out about  Florence Vine's war service and the National Archives of Australia (www.naa.gov.au) was the place to look, as they have digitised all the service records of Australian who served in the Great War. Florence joined the Australian Army Nursing Service at the age of 29 on June 25, 1915. Her birth pace is listed as Geelong and it also tells us that she did her nursing training at the Ballarat Hospital. She left Australia on July 17, 1915 on the HMAT Orsova. Sister Vines suffered from various illnesses including dysentry and attacks of rheumatic fever and returned to Australian in 1916 to convalesce, went back on active service and left Australia again on June 12, 1917 for Salonika (now Thessaloniki) in Greece but was finally invalided back to Australia in April 1918.

This is Florence's enrolment paper  to join the Australian Army Nursing Service, from her service record at the National Archive (www.naa.gov.au)
What else do we know about Sister Vines? She was the twelfth and last child of Joshua Vines and Mary Nicholls and was born in Geelong in 1885. Her own mother, Mary,  died ten years later ate the age of 51 and her father died at the age of 72 in 1906. After the War I have traced Florence through the Electoral Rolls (available on Ancestry)  and it appears that she didn't return to live in Berwick but lived around Malvern, Armadale and Balaclava. In the 1924 rolls she is listed as living with her sister, Blanche, and her occupation is listed  as a Chiropodist (now called a Podiatrist). Florence remained  a Chiropodist until she retired. She died in 1979 at the age of 94.

Finally, we are lucky enough to have a photograph of Florence Vines. This is a photograph of  members of the Australian Army Nursing Service (AANS) most of whom embarked from Australia on the Orsova during July 1915, outside the Ivanhoe Hotel in London, taken about 1916. Florence Vines is on the third row, second from left.  Australian War Memorial Image P03968.002    www.awm.gov.au

War Herald (web site)

Casey-Cardinia 1914-1918: the Great War -

There is an interesting resource developed by Cheryl Ward, called War Herald. This is how Cheryl describes her website - War and empire in Australian newspapers - one hundred years ago, today.  Looking back, the course of history appears inevitable, but how was it seen by the men and women of 1914? War Herald is generated from a daily search of Australian newspapers on Trove.

Cheryl has selected articles from newspapers around Australia from 100 years ago and they form a countdown to the Great War. http://throughtheselines.com.au/war-herald You can subscribe by email so the stories from 100 years ago drop into your inbox on a daily basis.

Cheryl Ward is a playwright who has written a play, Through these lines,  based on the letters and diaries of First World War nurses. The War Herald is a research tool for Cheryl's play. There is more information about the play on the website, http://throughtheselines.com.au/, but it does appear that the play is only touring New South Wales this year. More than 3,000 Civilian nurses volunteered for service during the Great War and in the next blog post we will look at the life of Sister Florence Vines from Berwick.

Murder and Mendelssohn

Reading Rewards - reviews -

Murder and Mendelssohn by Kerry Greenwood Narrated by Stephanie Daniel.    Book 20 in the Phryne Fisher series
From the cover:  An orchestral conductor has been found dead and Detective Inspector Jack Robinson needs the delightfully incisive and sophisticated Miss Fisher's assistance to enter a world in which he is at sea. Hugh Tregennis, not much liked by anyone, has been murdered in a most flamboyant mode by a killer with a point to prove. But how many killers is Phryne really stalking? At the same time, the dark curls, disdainful air and the lavender eyes of mathematician and code-breaker Rupert Sheffield are taking Melbourne by storm. They've certainly taken the heart of Phryne's old friend from the trenches of WW1, John Wilson. Phryne recognises Sheffield as a man who attracts danger and is determined to protect John from harm. With Mendelssohn's 'Elijah', memories of the Great War, and the science of deduction ringing her head, Phryne's past must also play it's part as MI6 becomes involved in the tangled web of murders.
So much potential, and such a disappointment, though it’s possibly a better one to read than listen to ‘thanks to’, god forbid, narrator Stephanie Daniel singing.  This unfortunately has cropped up before in other Phryne Fisher audiobooks and it’s cringe-worthy.  Luckily her narration isn’t.  That aside, the intrinsic wherewithal of choirs, musical orchestration parts, and technical conductor-speak is a tad mind numbing.  The oratorio details for ‘Elijah’ are equally so.  And the blatant chapter where homosexual Sheffield demands his curiosity about the female body to be unveiled by Phryne - “show me yours and I’ll show you mine” with dear friend John Wilson “supervising” every clinical inch-by-inch discovery, makes for disturbing listening and is totally unnecessary. I hope Kerry can get back on track with what is generally agreed to be a delightfully entertaining series. Deb.

Shadows of the Past

Reading Rewards - reviews -

Shadows of the Past by Patricia Bradley
From the cover: Psychology professor  and criminal profiler Taylor Martin prides herself on being able to solve any crime, except the one she wants most desperately to solve – the disappearance of her father twenty years ago. When she finally has a lead on his whereabouts, Taylor returns home to Logan Point, Mississippi, to investigate. But as she works to uncover the truth, someone else will do almost anything to keep her from it.
Nick Sinclair pens mystery novels for a living, but the biggest mystery to him is how he can ever get over the death of his wife – a tragedy he believes he could have prevented. Now that his estranged brother is the only family he has left, Nick sets out to find him. But when he crosses paths with Taylor, all he seems to find is trouble.
Join the chase as Taylor and Nick search the murky shadows of the past for the keys to unlocking the present – and moving into a future they never imagined.

I found this book intriguing, thrilling and romantic - what a combination!  This debut novel by Patricia Bradley is guaranteed to have you hooked. Bradley cleverly involves the reader in the intricacies of each character and their story and just when you think you have all the answers - she tosses in another red herring!
Weaving romantic tension with believable characters and thrilling suspense has made this novel a winner of the 2012 Daphne du Maurier award and 2012 Touched by Love award, as well as a finalist for the 2012 Genesis award.
~ Narelle

Researching World War One soldiers and other personnel

Casey-Cardinia 1914-1918: the Great War -

If you are interested in finding the role your relatives or members of the local community played in the War, here are some good resources.

The National Archives of Australia (NAA)  www.naa.gov.au has digitised all the service records for World War One personnel. Just type a name into the search box and you will get a list of results which can then be refined down, if necessary. The records cover the enlistment papers, service records, medical history and any correspondence between the Army and the soldier or his next of kin. The records can be 2 pages long or over 70 pages and some have letters regarding pensions, lost medals etc up to the 1950s.

This is my great uncle, Frank Weatherhead (June 8, 1893 to September 26, 1970). Frank was born at Lyonville, the seventh child out of nine of Horatio Weatherhead and Eleanor Hunt. The family were living at Tynong when Frank
enlisted on July 7, 1915. His service number was 6960.

 Frank's record at the National Archives of Australia  is 34 pages long and includes his war service as well as a letter he wrote in 1955 asking if he could have new ribbons for the three medals he received during the War. The Army wrote back saying that if he sent them three shillings they would send him his ribbons!

This is the first page of Frank's Military record at the National Archives of Australia

This is Frank's letter he wrote in 1955 asking for his ribbons to be replaced.

The Australian War Memorial (AWM)  www.awm.gov.au has several sources of information. There are the Embarkation Rolls which have details of approximately 330,000 AIF personnel, recorded as they embarked from Australia for overseas service during the First World War. 

This is Frank's Embarkation Roll entry - it shows his number; name; rank (Gunner); age (22 years old), occupation (Engine driver); married or single; address at enrolment (Tynong); next of kin (his father Horatio Weatherhead); Religion (Wesleyan); date of enlistment (July 6, 1915); Australian Military Force Unit and pay details.

There are also the Nominal Rolls at the Australian War Memorial which have details of approximately 324,000 AIF personnel, recorded to assist with their repatriation to Australia from overseas service following the First World War.

This is Frank's Nominal Roll entry - It shows his Number - 6960; his rank; his name; his Battalion (4th Field Artillery Brigade); the date of enlistment (July 7, 1915)  and the day he returned to Australia (RTA) January 14, 1919.

You really need to check the NAA and the AWM records to find your soldier as, in my experience, not all names appear on each site. The AWM also has lists of those who received Honours and Awards and the Red Cross files which consist of approximately 32,000 individual case files of Australian personnel reported as wounded or missing during the First World War.

If you want to locate a soldier by birth place or place of enlistment then try http://mappingouranzacs.naa.gov.au/ You can also add your own information to this site. It’s not perfect and not all places are listed.  The information comes from the NAA records but sometimes the AWM records have different information, so just because your soldier or your town isn’t listed it doesn’t mean that they don’t exist. In that respect the site doesn't give a true picture of the full military activity of the area.  Cora Lynn has nineteen names on their World War One War Memorial and and thirteen had a Cora Lynn address at the time of enlistment, however Cora Lynn does not appear on the Mapping our Anzacs website, because no-one was born there (the name came into use in 1907) and apparently no-one enlisted form there. Frank Weatherhead appears under the Lyonville entry as that is where he was born, but even though he was living in Tynong when he enlisted, he actually enlisted in Melbourne, so he does not appear under Tynong. His brother Alf Weatherhead, does appear under Tynong as that is where he enlisted.

I don't want you to think that Mapping our Anzacs, is not a valuable site, because it is a great site and would be especially good for school children to use. I just pointed out some of the quirks of the site to illustrate that you may have to look at more than one source to find your soldier to get the full picture of their involvement in the Great War.

Romance Awards

Reading Rewards - reviews -

The winners of the 6th annual Australian Romance Readers Awards (ARRA) have been announced.  The awards are handed out in nine categories from titles published the year before, with ARRA members invited to choose and vote on three special ‘reader-selected’ awards, this time being Favourite cover, Sexiest Hero and Favourite New author.  Drumroll ... And the awards go to:

Paranormal Romance—Heart of Obsidian by Nalini Singh
Sci-Fi, Fantasy or Futuristic Romance—Allegiance Sworn by Kylie Griffin
Short Category Romance—The One that Got Away by Kelly Hunter
Historical Romance—Untamed by Anna Cowan
Contemporary Romance—Holding Out for a Hero by Amy Andrews
Erotic Romance—Skin by Kylie Scott
Romantic Suspense—Half Moon Bay by Helene Young
Continuing Romance Series—Sons of Sin series by Anna Campbell
Favourite Australian Romance Author for 2013— Kylie Scott
Favourite Cover—Half Moon Bay by Helene Young
Sexiest Hero—Daniel Montgomery in Outback Dreams by Rachael Johns
Favourite New Romance Author 2013—Anna Cowan

Me since you

Quicksand -

A girl rebelling against her fatherA boy struggling with the loss of his fatherOne choice and one moment will bring these two togetherAnd change their lives forever…
Rowan Areno is a teenager struggling to find herself in the adult world; her life is a balancing act of responsibility and rebellion but with a cop for a father Rowan’s lives with higher expectations of behaviour, expectations she doesn't always meet. When one day Rowan decides to skip school she could never imagine the ripple effect that would follow that one minor indecision. Lives are lost and destroyed in a heartbeat. For Rowan she will struggle to deal with the consequences that follow that day and in the process will learn what and who really matters. A heart wrenching tale about a father and daughter who both struggle to grow in a dangerously frightening and vindictive world. It will take the compassion of one boy for Rowan to truly understand what life is all about and accept that in life we disappoint the ones we love but it does not make us love one another any less. Life will never stop because of one’s pain, for Rowan this means accepting the choices she and others have made because that will be her only way forward. To live, love and forgive; it’s never easy but always necessary.
Weiss doesn't hold back one inch in this captivating and heartbreaking tale of love and loss. At times Me after you is quite harrowing and sad but none the less an honest and heart-warming portrayal of life in the everyday world. I will admit that I was shocked by the plot twists in this tale, from the immediate consequences of Rowan's decisions to the shocking aftermath months down the road. I was stunned, this tale will take you on an emotional roller-coaster ride from the very heights of young love to the very depths of despair in grief and depression. As a protagonist Rowan is likeable without being annoying or condescending. Eli is so endearing and it was great to see a young character with maturity beyond his year; I can only say that I would have liked to have seen more of him and heard more of his story because he was the character who intrigued me the most. Ultimately what grabs about this novel is the surprises and plot twists nothing in this book was what I was expecting and that in itself makes it a great read. All in all Weiss has delivered a phenomenal tale about life, love, loss and forgiveness; one that I recommend everyone read, it may break your heart but it will also uplift you with the hope that there’s always something more. A must read for YA readers in 2014.
Courtney :)

Diagram Prize winner

Reading Rewards - reviews -

A tongue-in-cheek book that purports to deal with an awkward but critical issue, “How to Poo on a Date”, scooped an award for the Oddest Book Title of the Year on Friday.
The winner of the Diagram Prize, awarded annually since 1978 and based on a public vote since 2000, beat out other titles including “Are Trout South African?” and “Working-Class Cats: The Bodega Cats of New York City”.
 The prize, which carries no cash award, is run by The Bookseller, a British-based business magazine and website for the book industry.
“The public have chosen wisely. Not only have they picked a title that truly captures the spirit of the prize, they have selected a manual that can help one through life’s more challenging and delicate moments,” Horace Bent, described as “custodian of the prize”, said in a press release.Deb

Lysterfield - a short history

Links to our Past - history -

The first European settlement in the Lysterfield area took place in 1838 when James Dobie and J. S Kerr took up the Monbulk Run. This run was  eight square miles (about 2,000 hectares) and was based around the Monbulk creek. This run takes in modern day Lysterfield, Belgrave South and Belgrave Heights.
Dobie and Kerr operated this run until 1850 when Ambrose Eyles, took over for a short time and then Thomas Dargon. Dargon and his wife Margaret took up the Monbulk pre-emptive right in 1856, the year they were married.  Margaret, remained on the property after his death in 1862 and she retained the Monbulk lease until 1872, where she ran it with her second husband Robert Nixon, whom she married in 1867. The Dargon Homestead site is now within the Lysterfield and Churchill State Park. Nixon was a Berwick Shire Councillor when this area was part of Shire of Berwick (the Scoresby ward went over to the newly created Shire of Fern Tree Gully in 1889)

Margaret Dargon (nee Cahill 1827-1897)
Source: Story of the Dandenongs by Helen Coulson
Other early land owners included Edward Barry who took up 440 acres in 1856.  The Barry property was named Mountain Gap (a descriptive name as it was located in a gap in the hills).   His son William Barry and his wife Elizabeth  also owned land at Lysterfield around the intersection of Wellington and Kellett Roads. Barry was also a Berwick Shire Council. Their daughter Ada married George Powell who was notable for supplying  the British Army with horses;  he also sent 6,000 horses to South Africa during the Boer War. George and Ada’s daughter, Violet Lambert, was the first woman in Victoria to be elected a Shire Councillor, when she stood for the Shire of Fern Tree Gully in 1931. The Barry family gave their name to the Barry Ranges sometimes called the Lysterfield Hills.

A great photograph of Mrs Elizabeth Barry (nee Beck 1845-1921)  and three of her four daughters.Source: Story of the Dandenongs by Helen Coulson
Another early settler was George Battersby who selected 195 acres in 1862. His son John built Cloverdale Cottage in Hallam Road, which still remains today.

Abraham Strettle settled in 1865 on land called Sweet Hills due to the lush pasture. Streetle  established a cannery to can produce from his extensive orchard however the trees were destroyed by bush fires before they matured. Sweet Hills later became the site of an Church of England Boys Training farm and it was later acquired as part of the Lysterfield Reservoir. The Training Farm was established in 1937. It was first managed by The Rev. R.G. Nichols, and in 1942 was taken over by the Church of England Boys' Society. In 1945, the Farm moved to Yering and it closed in 1950. The Farm had its own school – Lysterfield Boys Home No. 4601. It operated from June 1942 until 1950. It was also called the Yering Boys Home School, so I presume that the School moved from Lysterfield to Yering with the training farm. There are still reminders left of this Boys farm in the Lysterfield and Churchill State Park the most obvious of which is Boys Farm Track and Heritage walk. Click here for the Parks Visitor's Guide.

Wellington Road was originally known as Narre Warren Road and was the main route used by people travelling to Emerald. Wellington Road was named for the Duke of Wellington (1769-1852), whose military career is usually associated with the Napoleonic Wars and the 1815 Battle of Waterloo; however the people of the old Fern Tree Gully Shire were non partisan as they called an adjacent road after Napoleon (1769-1821).

William Saurin Lyster (1828-1880)Portrait by George Frederick Folingsby. State Library of Victoria Image H5237
Land for a school was donated by William Saurin Lyster and to acknowledge this gift the locals decided to name the area Lysterfield. The area had been known locally as The Flats.  Lyster had selected his land, which he called Narre Worran Grange in 1867 and as the land was swampy and he drained the property and ran a dairy farm and produced his own cheese.  Lyster also claimed to have introduced grand opera to Australia; his opera company opened its first season in Melbourne in 1869.  Lyster is written up in the Australian Dictionary of Biography, click here, to read about his life. The aforementioned George Powell purchased part of the land originally owned by Lyster in 1928 and called his property Netherlea. The State Library of Victoria has a series of photographs of Powells house, which was originally Lyster's Narre Warron Grange  and three are reproduced below.

Netherlea, Lysterfield. Photographer: John T. CollinsState Library of Victoria Image H97.250/2689
Netherlea, Lysterfield. Photographer: John T. CollinsState Library of Victoria Image H97.250/2691
Netherlea, Lysterfield. Photographer: John T. CollinsState Library of Victoria Image H97.250/2712
The school was opened on April 9 1877 as Narre Warren North School, No. 1866 on the south side of Wellington Road. The name was changed to Lysterfield in September1879. Around 1883 the School was closed due to declining number and the building was used for church services and a Post Office. In 1886, Edward Warriner, the head master was told that he must operated Lysterfield half time with Menzies Creek School, No. 2457,  in spite of the three hours of travel  between the two on horse back. Edward was saved from this arduous travel by the Education Department opening the school full time towards the end of 1877.
The school closed again in 1893 and re-opened in September 1908 on a new more central site, in a leased building on Mr Sealey’s farm, as School No. 3573.  The first teacher was Marion Hale and she was succeeded by May Fairbairn. Enrolment numbers were never high and in 1911 it operated part time with Scoresby State School, No. 1028. Lysterfield, No. 3573, was destroyed by fire in 1912 and the Lysterfield locals were once again without a school even though at the time of the fire the School had an enrolment of only four pupils. Then in 1918 classes began in the Anglican Church in Wellington Road.  In 1920 a new building began construction on the original site and it opened in September 1921 with 15 pupils. The school re-located in 1997 to Bellfield Drive and it currently has about 460 pupils.

Lysterfield Post Office 1920sPhotographer Charlie HammondState Library of Victoria Image H90.72/68
The Post Office was established in 1877. A quarry was opened around 1903 with granite for road making being the major product and various quarries have operated since in the region. An Anglican Church was established in 1906, but closed in 1924 and was moved to Upper Fern Tree Gully to become St Thomas’. In 1928 the Progress Association was established and the Progress Hall was built and opened in June 1931 on the corner of Wellington and Kelletts Road.  It was well used by the community until the 1960s when it fell into disuse and disrepair. In the late 1960s it had a short revival of fortune when it was taken over by The Hut theatre group however, sadly, the hall burnt down down on June 2 1972.

Lysterfield is probably most well known today for its lake, which is the old Lysterfield Reservoir. Work on this Reservoir began in 1929 and due to delays caused by the Depression it was completed seven years later in 1936. Lysterfield was part of a overall plan to provide water to the Mornington Peninsula and Frankston and thus the Flinders Naval Base. The first stage was the construction of the Beaconsfield Reservoir (capacity 200 million gallons) between 1916 and 1920. This Reservoir was supplied with water from the Bunyip Main Race and, then from Beaconsfield, water went by pipe line to various reservoirs on the Mornington Peninsula and later on also supplied water to Dandenong, Hallam, Beaconsfield and Berwick. When Lysterfield (capacity 924 million gallons) was finished this meant that other towns further down the Peninsula would also have a water supply. After the Second World War additional water was required and this was supplied from the Tarago River to the Bunyip River and then to Lysterfield. Lysterfield and Beaconsfield were decommissioned with the opening of the Cardinia Reservoir in 1974. Lysterfield Lake as it is now called is part of the Lysterfield and Churchill State Park.

Stella Prize shortlist

Reading Rewards - reviews -

Named after one of Australia’s most important female authors, Stella Maria Miles Franklin, The Stella Prize celebrates Australian women’s contribution to literature and was awarded for the first time last year to Carrie Tiffany for Mateship with Birds. The prize is worth $50,000, and both fiction and nonfiction books are eligible for entry.  The 2014 Stella Prize shortlist has just been announced :

Burial Rites by Hannah Kent
Night Games by Anna Krien
The Night Guest by Fiona McFarlane
Boy, Lost: A Family Memoir by Kristina Olsson
The Swan Book by Alexis Wright
The Forgotten Rebels of Eureka by Clare Wright

The 2014 Stella Prize will be awarded in Sydney on the evening of Tuesday 29 April - we'll publish the winner details on Wednesday 20 April.

C.S. Lewis ...

Reading Rewards - reviews -

C.S. Lewis and the Body in the Basement by Kel Richards 
From the cover:  A fun, new detective novel by Kel Richards where the sleuth is C.S. Lewis, the beloved author of The Chronicles of Narnia. C.S. Lewis (known to all his friends as Jack), his brother Major Warren Lewis (known as Warnie) and one of Jack's students, Tom Morris, are on holiday in the English countryside. When they go to the bank they unwittingly enter a crime scene where a murder has just been committed in the vault. The victim is in the basement of the bank, alone, cut off by brick and steel from the rest of the world – and yet he has been stabbed from behind and the murder weapon has vanished. The three out of towners become suspects and must conduct their own investigation to clear their names. C. S. Lewis eventually solves the seemingly impossible crime by applying his razor sharp mind to the subtle clues. It is a ‘locked room’ mystery that would have baffled the cleverest sleuths of the Golden Age of detective stories. 
Written by Sydney’s 2CH radio show host, Kel Richards, this is the first in a new series of C.S. Lewis mysteries.  Initially it’s quite entertaining – the era, the setting, the downright ‘Englishness’ of a ‘walking holiday’; and being hooked swiftly into the 'impossibility' of it all – the locked room and the disappearance of the weapon.  But the constant ‘padding’ of what is really quite a short story with ongoing religious philosophising by Jack to Tom becomes tedious, so much so that I ended up skipping numerous pages, thankfully coming to a speedy wrap up. I'm not in any hurry to read the next one in the series.

Inaugural Folio Prize

Reading Rewards - reviews -

After the controversy with the Man Booker Prize in 2012 - the judges wanted 'readability' rather than 'literary merit' - The Folio Prize was established.  
It honours the best English-language fiction published in Britain, regardless of the nationality of the author or genre.

The winner of the inaugural $74,000 prize is George Saunders for his short story collection, Tenth of December.


Quicksand -

Long before anyone had heard of the 'Hunger Games,' Gillian Rubinstein wrote a magnificent novel for teens called
I was reminded of the similarities between the 'Hunter Games' and 'Galax-Arena' in a recent article I read, which then led me to re-read 'Galax-Arena'.
In 'Galax-Arena', three young people are kidnapped and transported to a whole new world where they are forced to perform as acrobats in an inter-gallactic arena with dozens of other performers.
Their situation is chilling - they must perform or face dire consequences.
Of the three young kidnapped people one is not a gymnast. Peter was the golden child of the family: a talented and gifted sportsperson. Liane excelled in ballet and Joella, well, Joella had lots of pets.
But Joella is intuitive and has an uncanny ability to see things clearly. It is Joella who discovers a fly in their new surroundings which leads her to question all she has been led to believe. Are they really in another galaxy after all?
Gillian Rubinstein has produced an amazing storyline with gripping characters.
Who can forget 'Bro Rabbit' - a hand puppet belonging to Liane who somehow comes to life.
'Hip, hop, hai' says Bro Rabbit 'Ya gon die.'

Thornwood House

Reading Rewards - reviews -

Thornwood House by Anna Romer
From the cover:  When Audrey Kepler inherits an abandoned homestead in rural Queensland, she jumps at the chance to escape her loveless existence in the city and make a fresh start. In a dusty back room of the old house, she discovers the crumbling photo of a handsome World War Two medic - Samuel Riordan, the homestead's former occupant - and soon finds herself becoming obsessed with him. But as Audrey digs deeper into Samuel's story, she discovers he was accused of bashing to death a young woman on his return from the war in 1946. When she learns about other unexplained deaths in recent years - one of them a young woman with injuries echoing those of the first victim - she begins to suspect that the killer is still very much alive. And now Audrey, thanks to her need to uncover the past, has provided him with good reason to want to kill again.
As you know, I have a penchant for a good Australian novel, and this is one of the better ones which is quite amazing for a debut author.

Anna Romer spent her wayward youth travelling the globe, working as a graphic artist while she soaked up local histories and folklore from the Australian outback, then Asia, Europe, and America. On returning home to Australia, she began weaving stories of her own and was quickly hooked. A visit to her sister in north Queensland inspired this first novel, a story that reflects her fascination with old diaries and letters, dark family secrets, rambling old houses, the persistence of the past, and our unique Australian landscape.

Her writing is rich and evocative, producing that wonderful feeling of ‘being there’ which is so lacking in many others.  The storyline is peppered with four generations of colourful characters and was not difficult to follow as it swings between the different family members’ stories.  Audrey and her daughter Bronnie are both perfectly captured – so real you half expect them to walk through your own back door!   I won’t wax lyrical any further.  This was a really good book – I thoroughly enjoyed the audio version narrated by Eloise Oxer – so why not download it.  In the meantime, here’s an interview with the talented Anna Romer to enjoy. 


Harry Potter Series

Quicksand -

The Harry Potter series by J.K Rowling has 7 different books that goes through the life of Harry Potter and his journey throughout Hogwarts, the school for wizards and witches. I have re-read the whole series twice, as I find it very intriguing and Rowling’s use of language and techniques builds up the suspense which makes me want to read it more. Most people would have seen the movie, but wouldn’t read the books as they are too long. But honestly reading the book is much more enjoyable as it goes through everything in much more depth, and you would understand everything better. Each book brings out new adventures and mysteries making you want to follow them in their journey. My favourite book out of the series would be the 5th one, Order of the Phoenix. I don’t know why I like that one the most, but every time I want to find something to read in my spare time my mind automatically thinks towards Order of the Phoenix, though it may be long.

At first when I started the first book of the Harry Potter series I wasn’t really into it, but as I continued reading I found myself wanting to read it more which then lead me to read the whole series and I’m  glad I didn’t stop at the first book otherwise I would have missed out on reading a book that was well worth my time. If you haven’t read any of the Harry Potter books, I suggest you go and do so now because I know for sure, even if you  aren’t into books to do with the supernatural theme, it doesn’t matter as this series will not disappoint you.

- Emily, age 15


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